Now just when you got used to amazing examples of pareidolia, comes another strange word and even stranger kind of apophenia. Cartocacoethes, the compulsion to see maps everywhere. This may seem like a rare and intriguing idiosyncrasy, but it turns out “the oldest map in the world”, an iconic image that just begs to be seen as a map, may not have been a map at all.
It’s the 8,000 year old Çatalhöyük map:
Isn’t that so obviously a city plan? Especially when you compare it to a map of the area represented, as reconstructed from contemporary excavations, at right.
There’s even the twin cones of a volcano, suggesting the eruption of Hasan Da?, visible from Çatalhöyük and from where the inhabitants extracted the valuable obsidian used in the making of tools, weapons, jewelry, mirrors and other objects.
Only thing is, the original assessment of what the painting represented was not a map. And recent reevaluations indicate that “it is clear that the original interpretation is much more likely to be the correct one. The painting is unlikely to be a map of Çatalhöyük”.
What was it? Read the post on Making Maps: Cartocacoethes: Why the World’s Oldest Map Isn’t a Map.
And don’t miss the original post on Strange Maps for more cartocacoethes fun.
Relevant to our interests, archaeologist Stephanie Meece warns how the out-of-context interpretation of ancient works of art, based on superficial resemblance to something else, “is a bane of archaeologists, and leads to von Daniken and his spaceships”.
Sure enough, not only is this out of context interpretation the main fallacy of Danikenism (or Charrouxism, or…), but there are also many cartocacoethes examples out there.
I couldn’t find a link, but I do remember (if you find it, please do comment below) seeing a weathered slab of rock claimed to be the oldest known map of something, along with a lot of other wild claims, when it was obviously just a slab of rock. Cartocacoethes. [via Skepnet]
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